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How To Open a Gym

Woman Holding Dumbbells in a Gym

There are many opportunities for entrepreneurs in the fitness industry. If fitness is your passion and you're interested in becoming a business owner, opening a gym could be a great idea. The question is: how do you turn that idea into your reality?

There are standard steps that many business owners take in starting up a business in any industry. There are also considerations that you may have to keep in mind as a gym owner. Having a solid plan in place before you begin moving forward could set you up for success.

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Developing Your Business Goals

Are you clear on your vision for your new business? What amount of earnings do you anticipate for the first year? Do you plan on hiring staff? Are you interested in renting out some of your space? Do you plan on providing services like tanning and massages to your members?

All of these considerations can lead you to make different decisions as you begin to take your first steps in opening up a gym. These steps include:

Creating a Business Plan for Your Fitness Center

It helps to jot your ideas down as you figure out how to open and sustain your business. It would be best if you wrote down your goals and how you plan to reach them. As your ideas start to take shape, you can sit down and make a business plan.

business plan is an essential tool for many reasons. It helps you put together a financial strategy for your business. It can also come in handy when you approach others to talk about your goals.

If you think you might need to approach investors about funding, for example, you will want to have a business plan that they can review. Many new business owners need loans or other sources of financing, and a business plan could help others understand how you plan to keep your business afloat.

Consider covering the following topics in your business plan:

  • Name of your business
  • Costs of gym equipment and supplies
  • Pricing for gym memberships and services
  • Location for your fitness center
  • Operating costs
  • Structure of your business entity
  • Names of other owners (if any)

Consider Startup Costs

It is crucial to include an estimate of startup costs. Startup costs could consist of:

  • Purchasing used or new gym equipment
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Forming the type of business structure that you choose
  • Future maintenance or repairs
  • Renting or purchasing a space

Consider extra costs for safety and maintenance if you decide to start with used treadmills, weights, or other types of gym equipment. Try to make sure that any used equipment you get is in good condition when making your purchase.

Choosing a Name for Your Gym

Picking a name for your business can be fun, but it can also be tricky. There are several things to consider in picking out a name. Is the name unique and well-suited to your industry? Will your target customer base find the name for your business appealing? Is the name that you want already in use by another company?

To address the question of business name availability, you can conduct a name search. You might want to check state business records to determine if anyone in your state is already using the name you would like to use.

You can also check the fictitious name database to see if any DBA names match the name you would like to use. Finally, you could check out the trademark database. It's vital to search the trademark database because you do not want to choose a trademarked name. You could face legal penalties if you attempt to use a name that someone else has already trademarked.

Also, consider that you might want to use a fictitious business name for your gym. A fictitious name (or trade name) is a name other than the legal business name you can use for business activities. If you are interested in using an assumed name, keep in mind that you will need to go through the process of registering a DBA name.

Choosing a Legal Structure for Your New Gym

You might wish to consider three common types of legal structures for your gym: sole proprietorshiplimited liability company (LLC), and corporation. If you haven't done much research on business structures, then you're probably wondering what the difference is between sole proprietorships, LLCs, and corporations.

A sole proprietorship is the least complicated business structure to form. It is also the cheapest to get off the ground. To create an LLC or corporation, you must file paperwork with the Secretary of State (or another agency). A sole proprietor does not have to file paperwork with the state (or paying that filing fee). So, why would one choose to have an LLC or corporation?

Sole proprietors do not have liability protection. Owners of an LLC or corporation have limited liability, which means that their personal assets are protected if someone sues the business.

There are also tax implications to choosing a legal structure for your business. The tax treatment that business owners receive depends partly on their legal entity type and selected tax status.

Obtaining an EIN

The IRS gives employer identification numbers to businesses as a way to identify them for tax purposes. In most cases, business owners are required to have an EIN. Even if you do not have to have one, you might want to get one.

The process of obtaining an EIN is simple. There are many ways to apply for an employer identification number, but applying online may be the quickest way. You can fill out the application on the IRS website and get your EIN for free.

Obtaining Business Licenses and Permits

Local authorities require that business owners obtain the proper licenses and permits to do business in the area. Attempting to do business without the licenses or permits you need could result in fines or other penalties.

Getting a Marketing Strategy

As a new business owner, it is essential to know your target market and how to reach this customer base. Word of mouth goes a long way, but you may also wish to develop a creative strategy for marketing your business.

You could consider advertising in newspapers or radio broadcasts, posting signage, and building a website. It could also be crucial to make room in your budget for business cards and other promotional items. Also, don't forget about social media. There are many social media platforms that you can use to market your brand and show potential customers how you can help them reach their health and fitness goals.

Opening Accounts and Getting Insurance

It helps to have a separate account for your business and personal funds, no matter which type of business structure you choose. It could be even more important to keep your business and personal funds separate if you form an LLC or corporation. One of the benefits of an LLC or corporation is limited liability. However, if you do not keep your business and personal funds separate, someone could try to reach your personal assets in a lawsuit.

Consider opening a business bank account and getting a credit card for your business expenses. Continue to keep business funds separate from your personal funds as your business grows.

You can also protect yourself by getting insurance. If someone suffers a loss in or on your property, you want to be covered by an insurance policy. Also, consider having waivers or putting a clause in your membership agreements to protect you if a member gets injured.

Hiring Staff

You might find that you need to hire quite a few people to help you keep the business running. You may also wish to work with personal trainers who can have one-on-one sessions with members or offer classes. Gym owners often provide classes and other services to help boost revenue. If you decide to work with personal trainers, try to select trainers who have certifications.

You might need to get worker's compensation insurance if you have employees. This type of insurance may kick in if an employee suffers a work-related injury.

Considering Opening a Gym? 

When you are ready to start your gym business, use our simple DIY business formation process to ensure you meet all the legal requirements in your state.

An attorney can also help you navigate through the steps of opening your fitness center, answering any questions that you might still have about forming your new business. Contact a business lawyer today.

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